The Isle of Palms crew of Gryphon took a business-like approach to the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series in 2017, and the returns were phenomenal.
Owner Colby Griffin’s crew got off to a hot start by releasing three blue marlin to win the series-opening event, the Bohicket Marina Invitational Billfish Tournament, in mid May, and off they went.
When the series finale, the Edisto Invitational Billfish Tournament, was over last weekend, Gryphon had completed a dominating – and record-breaking – run to the Governor’s Cup championship.
With veteran Governor’s Cup Captain Chucky Moore at the helm and budding super-angler Chandler Griffin – Colby Griffin’s son – handling the rod on most billfish, Gryphon accumulated a Governor’s Cup-record 7,475 points for releasing eight blue marlin and 13 sailfish while fishing all five series tournaments.
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The previous record for total points in a Governor’s Cup series of 6,075, set by Reel Passion in 2011, was blown out of the water.
“We took our Governor’s Cup approach a little different,” said Colby Griffin. “It was more of a hobby in past years. This year we set our goal to be serious about it. We kind of ran the tournaments as a business as opposed to going fun fishing. Everybody had a defined role and we were a lot more successful.”
Mister Pete finished a distant second with 5,675 points, followed by Toast in third (5,475). Anticipation (5,275) was fourth followed by Artemis (4,875) in fifth.
A pair of Georgetown boats were next in the final standings. Blue Sky had a strong finish in the last two events and wound up in sixth place with 4,675 points. Rascal was seventh with 3,475.
The elder Griffin and crew put their faith in 15-year-old Chandler Griffin, who celebrated his birthday in June in the middle of the series, to serve as the crew’s primary angler. He was the angler on five blue marlin and 12 sailfish releases.
“Chandler’s been killing it this season,” said Moore. “He had a really good season.”
Colby Griffin is thrilled with the performance of the crew, led by Moore, aboard his 60-foot Hatteras, but especially proud of his son.
“It’s the first major event we’ve ever won,” said Colby Griffin. “We’re extremely excited. I’m proud of Chandler – he’s come a long way. He worked real hard this year to become a better angler. To catch a lot of blues at any age is a difficult task.”
Chandler Griffin’s list of achievements is already a long one.
He won first-place as the Outstanding Youth Angler in the Governor’s Cup series this year after finishing second in 2016. He was the top Youth Angler in three of the five tournaments in 2017.
Chandler Griffin was also the top Junior Angler in the meatfish and billfish categories in the 2016 Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, according to Colby Griffin.
For Capt. Moore, an elusive Governor’s Cup Billfishing series victory is finally in his grasp. A Charleston native, Moore has been a captain for, he estimates, 25 years, and has fished in the Governor’s Cup as a captain for 12 years.
In 2005, Moore was the skipper on Chicora and finished in second place to series winner and Georgetown entry Rascal by 18 points. Rascal, captained by Mark Rogers of Georgetown, landed the state record blue marlin, an 881.8-pounder, in June that year to highlight the 2005 series win
But this wasn’t a near-miss – it was a dominating win from start to finish for Moore and crew.
“I’ve got two Governor’s Cup records – most points and closest finish,” said Moore. “We were very blessed – we caught what the good Lord gave us. We’re pretty excited, and Chandler has the most youth points. It’s going to be a tough one to beat.”
Other Gryphon crew members included mate Bryce Bell, mate Mark McDevitt, Ted McNair, Brian O’Quin, Jeffrey Mitchell, Ross Miller, Brad Kicklighter and Michael Krivohlavek.
Wildlife, owned by Ken Strickland and captained by Jamie Brown, won the Edisto tournament, releasing one blue marlin and eight sailfish to accumulate 2,200 points.
Anticipation was second with one blue marlin and six sailfish releases for 1,800. Mister Pete was third, also with one blue marlin and six sailfish releases for 1,800.
“The fishing right now is incredible,” said Moore. “The last day of the Edisto Tournament, there were plenty of boats that saw over 10 billfish.”
For more info on the series and the Edisto Tournament, visit http://govcup.dnr.sc.gov/.
Reel Kids, Reel Fun
The Bobby Clarke Memorial “Reel Kids, Reel Fun” Fishing Tournament will be staged at Georgetown Landing Marina on Aug. 5.
Local fishermen are invited to take children out for a day of fun fishing with a cookout and awards ceremony to follow at the marina.
The tournament is named for the late Capt. Bobby Clarke, who passed away in 2006 after his charter boat, Super Suds II, capsized while returning to Murrells Inlet from a fishing trip.
For more information, contact Michael Smith of the Florence Bluewater Fishing Club at 843-307-0425.
Gregg Holshouser: firstname.lastname@example.org